More than just one more meeting

During the average week, I attend quite a few meetings. This week, I have 15 (admittedly, this is an abnormal week, I do not usually have quite so many meetings).

Although meetings can interrupt the flow of our “normal work,” there’s no denying the fact that, handled properly, they can be highly effective in getting tasks accomplished.

Case in point is my favorite meeting of the entire year, the HydroVision International steering committee meeting. We held this last week in Portland, Oregon, USA, the location for HydroVision International in 2015.

The purpose of this meeting is to choose the seven topics that will be presented during each of the seven panel presentation tracks at HydroVision International. So, a total of 49 panel presentation sessions running the gamut of the hydropower industry, from asset management to wave, tidal and instream power.

Each year, we invite a variety of hydro industry experts to attend this meeting. Although many seasoned veterans attend year after year, a show of hands at last week’s meeting revealed a surprising number of people taking part in this process for the first time. That’s great for us, and for you, as it brings new minds, with new ideas, into the conference planning process.

So why is this meeting my favorite? I’ll see if I can explain.

More than 50 influential, experienced, respected hydro industry representatives walk into a room and sit down together before a blank slate. Literally. We have not done any planning work in advance of this meeting. They then spend the next couple of hours brainstorming hot topics in their respective conference tracks. What’s coming down the pike? What are hydro industry members going to be facing with regard to, for example, civil works and dam safety next July? What are the must-cover topics that will provide HydroVision International attendees with the tools they need to do their jobs better?

Then, in what is perhaps the most difficult task of the entire meeting, group members must look at all those great ideas (one group came up with more than 50!) and narrow them down to the seven “cream of the crop” to be presented at HydroVision International. Can you imagine the challenge this exercise poses?

Once this is done, the rest of the work is more straightforward. Meeting attendees must craft a catchy and informative session name and description, so potential attendees can adequately weigh the benefits of attending HydroVision International. They also brainstorm potential moderators and panelists to be invited to participate in each of these sessions.

Finally, as we are winding down this full-day meeting, a representative of each of the seven tracks presents their seven sessions to the entire group for review and feedback.

If you are thinking this is a lot of work to accomplish in a short amount of time, you’re right. But it gets done, every year, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the people in that room.

I hope you have a better idea now why this is my favorite meeting of the year. I hope you can see how HydroVision International really is new every time (even if the content is packaged in the same way year after year). And I hope you can see how the conference content is on top of the “hot topics” in the hydroelectric power industry.

Come to HydroVision International 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, July 22 to 25 to see the end results of last year’s meeting. And mark your calendar now for HydroVision International 2015, July 21 to 24 in Portland.

Or, if you are interested in being part of the select group that plans the HydroVision International panel presentation sessions for an upcoming conference, email You know you want to come join the fun!


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